Microsoft and Xiaomi are now ‘strategic partners’

Xiaomi Mi5
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Xiaomi phones and tablets will now come with Microsoft Office and Skype pre-installed. That’s thanks to an unexpected partnership between Microsoft and the Chinese company.

Financial details of the deal are under wraps, but Microsoft is selling 1,500 of its patents to Xiaomi for an undisclosed sum, a move that could potentially help the Chinese company move to the Western market amidst declining sales in China.

Some of the patents from Microsoft revolve around voice communications, multimedia, and cloud computing, a Microsoft spokesperson told Digital Trends. Xiaomi has fallen behind the likes of Huawei and Samsung, and is also facing competition from smaller Chinese vendors like Oppo and Vivo, according to Reuters. But the company has filed 3,700 patents last year alone and hopes the patents from Microsoft will help shift its focus to a global scale.

“This is a very big collaboration agreement between the two companies,” Senior vice president at Xiaomi, Wang Xiang, told Reuters.

The cross-licensing will begin in September 2016, where Xiaomi Android devices like the Mi 5, Mi Max, Mi 4S, Redmi Note 3, and Redmi 3 will come pre-installed with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype.

Xiaomi made its first jump into U.S. waters recently, after it announced a set-top box at Google I/O. The 4K Mi Box is powered by Android TV, supports a Bluetooth remote, voice activation, support for Google Cast, and of course as the name implies, 4K playback. Xiaomi has also made a Windows-powered tablet.

And what is Microsoft hoping to gain? Xiaomi’s young user base. Everyone wants a piece of the Chinese market, and having Microsoft services like Office and Skype pre-installed on Xiaomi devices is one way to have users get used to Microsoft products.

It’s unclear beyond that why Microsoft took the step of deciding to sell its patents to Xiaomi, and why it chose the Chinese company as its “strategic partner.”

“From time to time, Microsoft transfers patents as part of IP and strategic business collaboration deals,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Digital Trends. “Microsoft also regularly buys and licenses patents from third parties.”

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